Skip to main content

J. J. Finley Letters

Identifier: MSS 0594

Scope and Content

The collection contains 10 letters from Finley to family members. There are also many damaged letter fragments. A program from 1940 marks the dedication of the J. J. Finley Elementary School in Gainesville, Florida, and a flyer from 1999 advertises the dedication of the historical marker for Finley located in the Evergreen Cemetery in Gainesville.


  • Creation: 1857 - 1999
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1857 - 1924



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

Jesse Johnson Finley was born November 18, 1812 on his father’s plantation, “Grassland,” near Lebanon, Tennessee. He passed the bar in Tennessee in 1821 and moved to Arkansas to practice law and served in the Arkansas state legislature. He later returned to Tennessee, where he became the mayor of Memphis and continued his law practice, though this was briefly interrupted when he volunteered for the Second Seminole War. In 1846, Finley moved to Marianna, Florida with his third wife Margaret. A year later, he was appointed Judge of the western Judicial Circuit in Florida and in 1850 was elected to the Florida State Senate. At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Finley became the Confederate States Judge for the District of Florida. However, by the next year he had resigned the position to enlist in the Florida Infantry of the Confederate Army as a private. He rose through the ranks quickly, advancing to colonel and then promoted to Brigadier General of the Florida Infantry stationed in Tennessee by 1863. He was part of the failed Kentucky campaign of General Kirby-Smith, was involved in military campaigns in Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and Atlanta, and was severely wounded at the battle of Jonesboro. After the war, Finley returned to Florida where he served partial terms during three contested elections to the House of Representatives in the 1870s and 1880s. He died in 1904 in Lake City and is buried in Gainesville, Florida.


.01 Linear Feet (3 Folders)

Language of Materials



Letters from J. J. Finley to family members.


University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

Donated by Samuel H. Himes Jr.

A Guide to the J. J. Finley Letters
Finding aid created by Rachel W. Laue
December 2021
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America